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*** European Commission finally announces bottom trawling ban around the Azores***
Credit © WWF Canon / Erling Svensen + A. Freiwald

Collage © WWF Canon / Erling Svensen, Norway & André Freiwald / University of Erlangen, Germany
There is still hope for Europe's coral reefs and seamounts

February 2004

Gland, Switzerland -
WWF welcomes a proposal tabled by the European Commission to ban the use of bottom-trawl fishing gear around the Azores, Madeira, and Canary Islands.

The proposal follows up on commitments adopted by Environment Ministers and the representative of the European Commission at the OSPAR Ministerial Meeting, Bremen, Germany, June 2003

Paragraph 12 of the Bremen Ministerial Statement reads as follows: We are particularly concerned about the status of vulnerable cold-water coral reefs, many of which are threatened with destruction. Bearing in mind the ecological importance of these reefs and the practical irreversibility of their damage, we shall take immediate measures to protect coral reefs from further damage due to use of active fishing gear on the reefs. Furthermore, we shall ensure that steps are taken by 2005 to identify additional threats to the cold-water reefs and that measures are taken to protect the reefs against these threats.

Further to the measures envisaged for the Darwin Mounds north-west of Scotland (still to be adopted by the EU Council), the new ban proposed by the EC aims to ensure continued protection for these habitats in the wider Atlantic. "This is great news for the sensitive deep-sea habitats around these islands," says Stephan Lutter from WWF's North-East Atlantic Programme. "The unique ecosystems in these waters, such as cold-water coral reefs and seamount habitats, would be rapidly destroyed if bottom trawling were allowed." Many of them are considered for designation as marine protected areas already. MORE

Download WWF-SAR factsheet on the Azores fisheries zone
Download WWF's submission to the OSPAR Biodiversity Committee
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